94b – The Fox’s Den – Part 2

The Fox’s Den – Take Two

This is day 2 of 2 days at the Johnson’s home, where Mr. and Mrs. Fox also live with their two kits. How American can you get? BTW: while I’m thinking about it, The American Red Fox is not a native American species. Unlike the Red Fox of the western U.S and Canada, which came from Eurasia and was cut off from eastern U.S. by the Ice Age, the eastern Red Fox was introduced to eastern North American during the early 1700s—like most of us whose family crossed some ocean to get here. Since then it has been mixed with many other sub-species of fox that its DNA no longer resembles the European Red Fox. Well, enough of that! I’m back with more photos of our own variety of Vulpes.

American Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

This evening the Fox family arrived much later than yesterday. I’m guessing that my presence was a bit un-nerving to them. But also, yesterday, there were some local skeet shooters in a close enough sounding range to send the two adult foxes into a frenzy each time a volley of shots rang out.  The kits didn’t seem scared, but the older folks probably had some prior experiences and memories.

Anyway, I arrived early enough to clear a good lens path. But of course my first sightings were in an entirely different direction—and through a wire fence. I began to think that “Murphy’s theorem” had become an axiom.

1.Through a wire fence—“Murphy’s Axiom”

1. Through a wire fence—“Murphy’s axiom”

2.They were in the right place for a clear shot

2. They were in the right place for a clear shot

They were in the right place for a clear shot

The kits finally showed up it the right place for a clear shot. They romped and played faster than my shutter speed in the evening light.


3.They howl for food

3. They howl for food

Like all kits and kids, they get hungry.

4.And they get fed

4. And they get fed

So mom had to show up. The nice thing is, although cautious and wary, she seemed to accept my presence more than she did yesterday—as long as the captain kept an eye on me.

5.The captain kept an eye on me

5. The captain kept an eye on me

Did you ever try to out stare a fox or a cat?

6.The Protector

6. The Protector

It’s all for the sake of protecting the young.

Stay well until next time.

Stay well until next time.

Stay well until next time.

Again, thank you so much Carol and Rick!

94a – The Fox’s Den

The Fox’s Den – Take One

If any readers of this blog have bought and read a copy of my book—The Essentials of Nature Photography (Tern Book Company 1997)—then both of you may have noticed that I dedicated that book to the noble Red Fox. Well, after all these years, I finally shot my second red fox. Only this time I used a camera. BTW, the book sold well until DSLRs came on the scene:-).

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

This fox and her family are living in a rural setting. The property was that of my friends, Rick and Carol Johnson, who have lived there for more than forty years. So when kits appeared, I got a phone call.

These frames were taken late yesterday (Saturday April 25, 2015). We had some nice evening sunlight when the fox family came out to play and feed. And then flat soft light, which I like the best—detail and soft shadows.

1. Mrs. Fox was the first to greet me

1. Mrs. Fox was the first to greet me

Mrs. Fox was the first to greet me, although I wasn’t sure how welcome I was. Five feet away were the kits. I distracted the kits from their play.

2. Five feet away were the kits

2. Five feet away were the kits

3. I distracted the kits from their play

3. I distracted the kits from their play

4. Mama came around the back way

4. Mama came around the back way

But with that, Mrs. Fox (Mama) came around the back way to look after her kits. According to the kits, it was feeding time. Then out of nowhere, Mr. (Captain) Fox appeared.

5. Mr. (Captain) Fox appeared

5. Mr. (Captain) Fox appeared

6. A loving/protective father does not go un-noticed!

6. A loving/protective father does not go un-noticed!

A loving/protective father does not go un-noticed!

After facing the surrounding elements I found that the best animal situation was a bit hampered by obstacles that appeared in the path of my lens. Does that sound familiar to you? So I asked my host if I may come back tonight with a set of pruning shears to remove some weeds. I was offered a complete mowing of the field, but we agreed it would upset our canine models. If you are a professional photographer, you know how upset models can get.

So stay tuned! I hope to come back tomorrow evening with some un-interrupted frames.

  • Camera:               Canon 5D
  • Lens:                    Canon 500mm f/4L IS
  • Shutter speed:   Slower as it got later
  • Aperture:            f/4 in Av (Aperture) mod
  • My hosts:            Rick and Carol Johnson “Thank you for this lifetime opportunity”


Extra, Extra – Enter Orange Audubon’s Photo Contest

Extra, Extra

To all DPA, Leu Gardens, Space Coast, and Crealde students that have been in my classes—past and present: please check out the rules and guidelines of Orange Audubon’s CHERTOK NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST:


One of last year’s winners:

Audubon Chertok Contest - 2014

Audubon Chertok Contest – 2014

Honorable Mention: Snuggle Time – Sandhill Cranes 
Locale where photographed: DeBary
Photographer: Debra Schmidt, Deltona


Please consider entering. My motives are purely selfish. I want you to win so I can brag about you, and tell people what a great teacher I am :-).

93 – A Day at The Farmer’s Market

A Day at The Farmer’s Market

This morning (Saturday, April 18, 2015) on the way to the Oakland Nature Preserve, my wife Danielle and I spent half a day at the Winter Garden Farmers Market. Yes, we picked up our fill of fresh vegetables, but when I get near something that might be a terrific photo-op, I get pre-occupied. Farmer’s Markets are almost always a great photo-op.

1. Fresh vegetables everywhere

1. Fresh vegetables everywhere

2. Mostly grown in Florida

2. Mostly grown in Florida

3. Many merchants

3. Many merchants

4. All blend well with a camera

4. All blend well with a camera

5. Trish Helm sells her orchids

5. Trish Helm sells her orchids

6. More orchids from Trish

6. More orchids from Trish

7. Lots of food--no one goes hungry

7. Lots of food–no one goes hungry

shopping bags an lots of money

8. Bring your own large shopping bags an lots of money

When you take photos at a farmers market it is best to be as inconspicuous as possible. A small point & shoot camera will do just fine. Although this time I used a DSLR with a 24-105mm lens. The sling strap kept it behind me—out of sight most of the time. If you want shots of the merchants doing their work, ask permission, and offer to send them email copies. I’ve never been refused. If you show or publish the photos as photojournalism, it certainly can’t hurt their business. For more information on photographing a farmer’s market CLICK HERE.

92 – Joe Overstreet Landing – A Crealdé Photo Workshop

Joe Overstreet Road – Prairie Lakes Wilderness Preserve

Last Saturday (March 28, 2015) I led the Crealde School of Art’s Overstreet Nature Photography Workshop. It was a little bit windy, and slow shutter speeds would result in motion blur.  So, as the morning moved along I saw several abandoned tripods as most people opted for the flexibility of hand held shots.

1 - Windy Day

Windy Day

Recent heavy rains raised the level of Lake Kissimmee, so the grassy fields along the shoreline were quite soggy.

2 - Soggy Day

Soggy Day

Getting the camera close to the ground prevented a boring uninterrupted horizon line. Cindy was unaware of the role she played.  It also meant paying closer attention to the foreground grasses.

3 - Landscape


In the photo below the grasses played a more important role in showing the environment. Jennifer, busy at work, was placed simply for scale. If she were in better focus, her image would have drawn attention away from the grass.

5 - Foreground Grass

Foreground Grass

I’m not sure who enjoyed this relationship more—Cindy or the colt?

Good Friends

Good Friends

One of the day’s highlights was this eagles’ nest. It is remotely located on a dirt back road. so it is mostly undisturbed.

8 - Eagles Nest

Eagles’ Nest

A 500mm lens was able to zero in on this young fledgling.

9 - Fledgling Bald Eagle

Fledgling Bald Eagle

Here’s our group.

10 - Our Crew

Our Crew


91b – Everglades Sunset Storm

Everglades Sunset Storm

I mentioned in my last blog that the weather was not ideal on our Everglades Workshop. However bad weather often means good photography. Here is a sunset at the Mahogany Hammock Trail in the very middle of the Everglades NP. Those rain clouds later rained on us all night and into the morning sunrise session at the Anhinga Trail. More of that later.

Mahogany Train Sunset, Everglades NP

Mahogany Trail Sunset, Everglades NP

The moral of the story is–don’t stay home when it rains.

For the technical curious:
This was a 3 exposure HDR at
f/5.6, 1/45th-1/10th & 0.3 sec. ISO 100
Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4L lens at 35mm.

91 – A Turtle’s Bad Day!

Our annual trip to the Everglades was a photographic success, even though the bird population was down, and the weather was wet! But more of that later. For today, it’s the reptiles.

So, you think you are having a bad day?

Now what?

Now what?

The good news is—the turtle escaped, and will hopefully tell it’s grandchildren all about it.

2. Gator goes for a better grip

2. Gator goes for a better grip

3. Oops!

3. Oops!


4. Grab it again

4. Grab it again


But the slippery shell escapes

5. But the slippery shell escapes

Here’s the stats! 

Camera Stats

Camera Stats